Overexpression of ornithine decarboxylase increases myogenic potential of H9c2 rat myoblasts

Marco Govoni, Francesca Bonavita, Lisa M. Shantz, Carlo Guarnieri, Emanuele Giordano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Myoblast differentiation into multinuclear myotubes implies the slow-down of their proliferative drive and the expression of myogenin, an early marker of myogenic differentiation. Natural polyamines-such as putrescine, spermidine and spermine-are low molecular weight organic polycations, well known as mediators involved in cell homeostasis. Many evidences in the literature point to their role in driving cellular differentiation processes. Here, we studied how polyamines may affect the differentiation of the myogenic cell line H9c2 into the muscle phenotype. Cell cultures were committed via a 7-day treatment with insulin which induced increase in the activity of ornithine decarboxylase, the first enzyme in the polyamine biosynthetic pathway, consistent with myogenic differentiation. To evaluate the role of polyamines in the differentiation process, cells were transfected with a plasmid overexpressing a stable ornithine decarboxylase, under control of a constitutive promoter. Overexpressing cells spontaneously differentiate into myotubes, without the need for induction with insulin; multinuclear myotubes and myogenin expression were apparent within 2 days of confluency of cultures. Polyamine depletion-by means of α-difluoromethylornithine, an irreversible inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase-abolished the differentiation process. These observations support the evidence that polyamines are a key step involved in differentiation of muscle cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-547
Number of pages7
JournalAmino Acids
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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